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on 11 July 2008
Holy Moly - this book cannot be allowed to continue without any kind of review! It is far too engrossing and essential.

If you have read the other two autobiographical books by Martin Prechtel (congratulations on your good taste incidently), then you will equally find yourself compelled to follow on with this one. In fact, the three books are critically interlinked and best read as a whole account. And man-alive, what an account!

In this volume, Prechtel recounts his flight from a blood-soaked 1980's Guatemala, and the terrible wrenching up of all his most meaningful roots from his adopted village. The book begins by telling the entrancing tale of the Toe Bone and the Tooth which you'll just have to read to understand its powerful subtext for his life and exile, I 'll not be able to convey its import here.

Prechtel, despite some lapses into superfluous verbosity, is one of the most engaging writers alive, and his ability to analyse highly numinous processes is pretty much unmatched as far as I can determine. You suck it and see. But be sure to hold onto the back of your skull though, Martin Prechtel has an unnerving capacity to blow it clean away.

It's difficult to evaluate these books as for accuracy and veracity. Do we dare to accept them unconfirmed by any independent assessment? Are there any realistic ways any of us could check up on the intensely personal nature of the episodes described by Prechtel?

Y'know, I'm honestly minded not to care that much. The power and poignancy of his writing allows it to stand on its own merits quite sturdily enough. This would be very unlikely to occur if devised by a charleton or tall tale-spinner (like say Laurens Van der Post, see his biography: "Storyteller" by J.D.F. Jones).

Embroidery and artistic licence are acceptable and probably unavoidable to some degree, but severe cracks caused by credibility stretched too far would soon become apparent and corrupt the overall flow. I don't sense much of that here. Nonetheless, it is always adviseable to be on guard and make any judgements provisional.

In the meantime, enjoy this gripping account of Prechtel's flight from a war-torn Guatemala and his heart-searing re-entry back into the USA. I longed to learn HOW he re-adjusted to exile and what got him through such excruciating times. This book goes some way to telling, but I hunger for more; surely the mark of greatness.

It bears emphasis: here is a writer of exceptional calibre; a narration of the most compelling order. Do your soul a favour... Don't miss out!
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